Statistics show that the little blue penguins were most affected by the Rena Oil Spill. Over the duration of the catastrophic event, over 383 oiled little blue penguins were admitted to the oiled wildlife facility for rehabilitation and care. Over 95% of these birds were released back into the wild, with the ordeal proving too much for 18 birds – thirteen required euthanasia and another five died in care.
However new statistics show that the little blue penguins who were cleaned up after the oil are behaving the same as unaffected birds. The spill leaked about 350,000 litres of oil into the Bay of Plenty harbour when the container ship ran aground on the Astrolabe Reef in 2011. Massey University scientists used tracking devices to compare the diving and foraging patterns of the eight rehabilitated birds with unaffected birds. They also analysed carbon and nitrogen levels in birds’ feathers, which portrayed that these birds were now feeding on similar prey.
While this news is positive for the little birds, these penguins are now under a new threat. It is alcohol-related issues which are now posing a real threat the birds. As people go out at night, drink, sit in front of burrows and put their rubbish in sand holes- trapping the birds. The trust wanted to make sure that the public is more aware of their impact upon the penguin population.